What does kickboxing do to your body?

What is Cardio Kickboxing?

Cardio kickboxing is a relatively new workout style that involves a class of 15 – 25 individuals copying the moves of a lead instructor who will perform the combat moves used in kickboxing.

These will include the following lower body moves:

Front kicks
Side kicks
Back Kicks

Upper body moves include:

Upper Cuts

There are no bouts in cadio-kickboxing, and all strikes are directed either into the air or at a strike pad.


A class will last for up to an hour and upbeat music will be played with the moves typically being performed in time with the music.


What effect does this have on the body?

Muscle development

The movements and techniques used in kickboxing use the entire body.


Punches involve the use of the chest and tricep muscles when then punch is thrown and the back and biceps when the punch is pulled back.


Kicks will involve the entire leg musculature and rear kicks will strongly use the glute muscles.


Punching the air or shadow boxing will develop these muscles to some degree. However, it’s when the pads are used that has the most beneficial effect. The extra resistance the pad introduces requires the muscles to work that much harder.


Most cardio-kickboxing lessons will also entail a significant amount of ab work, so there’s no part of the body left untouched by this form of exercise.


The end result is that muscles will be toned and developed to some degree. You’ll not develop a bodybuilder’s physique by any means but they will develop shape.


This is where the next benefit of kickboxing comes in.


Fat Loss

There is no point in developing your muscles if they are covered by a layer of fat. In fact, if you’re already overweight, developing your muscles will just make you look even more bulky.


In rather crude terms, when you undertake a vigorous activity, such as exercise, your body will burn off an increased number of calories. This is beneficial as your body tends to store any extra calories consumed as fat. If these calories are being burned off, they can’t be stored as fat.


Together with a calorie controlled diet, cardio-kickboxing can be a useful way to get your body into a caloric deficit.


Your body consumes calories to meet its normal day-to-day requirements. Scientifically, this is called Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). NEAT is defined as:

“[…] the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing yard work, undertaking agricultural tasks and fidgeting. Even trivial physical activities increase metabolic rate substantially and it is the cumulative impact of a multitude of exothermic actions that culminate in an individual’s daily NEAT. It is, therefore, not surprising that NEAT explains a vast majority of an individual’s non-resting energy needs.”



When you undertake a rigorous activity like kickboxing, your energy requirements will increase dramatically. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), a participant in a cardio-kickboxing can be expected to burn 350 to 450 calories an hour.


Given that an average man needs 2,500 calories per day to maintain their weight, and an average female needs 2,000 calories, the figure of 350-450 is significant.


When you sensibly limit the daily calories you consume and start up a vigorous training programme, like cardio-kickboxing, you can radically alter your body shape over a period of time.


In this situation, you’re not eating enough calories to meet both your normal day-to-day requirements as well as your exercise needs. The body will therefore have no choice but to start to eat its own fat reserves.


Wondering how you can sensibly reduce your calories? Scooby is a well-known bodybuilder on YouTube and has devised a Calorie Calculator that’s really easy to use. You can find it here.


So what does this double pronged attack of building muscle and burning fat have on the body?


Kickboxing benefits for females

Generally speaking, women gain weight first on their thighs, backside and arms.


These are often the last areas where the weight is lost. In other words, the areas that hold fat first, will often be the last areas to lose the weight from.


This is important to remember when trying to lose weight. It can be easy to think you’re not making progress because a certain area is not reducing in size. Just keep going; change will happen.


Let’s look at some examples of where kickboxing can dramatically change a woman’s physique.

Kickboxing body before and after:

What does kickboxing do to your body?


Kickboxing benefits for males

Men, when they put on weight, tend to gain it around the mid-section.


In fact, men can look fairly lean everywhere else but have a large pot belly.


Men have a greater propensity to gain muscle than women and therefore, cardio-kickboxing will develop muscular tone throughout the body.


Let’s look at some examples below.

Kickboxing body before and after:

What does kickboxing do to your body?

Frequently asked questions:

Is kickboxing good for your back?

If you’re suffering from problems with your back then it’s always best to obtain medical advice. Providing your doctor is in agreement, cardio-kickboxing can be a good exercise to develop your supporting back muscles and to keep the area supple. It’s always best to start gradually if your recovering from back pain and avoid any movements which trigger any form of pain.

What are some of the negatives of kickboxing?

Cardio-kickboxing is a relatively safe form of exercise but injuries can occur if techniques are not performed correctly. It’s important to never over extend the arm or leg when executing the punches or kicks. To do so is to invite injury to the elbows and knees.

It’s also important to remember that this form of exercise doesn’t involve any form of actual fighting. As a consequence, any self-defense benefits will be fairly limited. It’s really only by practising actual sparring with an opponent that you become better at fighting.

Does kickboxing build muscle?

Whilst you won’t get a bodybuilder’s physique, cardio-kickboxing is an all over body workout. Punches will develop the chest, back, bicep and tricep muscles, whilst the variety of kicks will develop the entire lower body musculature. It also burns considerable calories to strip away the fat to show the muscles in all their glory!

Does kickboxing get rid of belly fat?

Together with a calorie controlled diet, cardio-kickboxing is an excellent way to not only strip away belly fat but also to chisel and shape the abdominals that lie beneath. An hour’s session will burn 350 to 450 calories an hour and will involve targeted exercises for the abs.

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